This story originally appeared in Right Richter, a newsletter by Will Sommer. Subscribe now to see what’s happening in right-wing media from the safety of your inbox.
Back in December, Washington state Trump supporter Joshua Greene donated a small amount of money to the crowdfunding effort to build a wall along the southern U.S. border. He wasn’t alone. The GoFundMe page to build the wall, to which he’d donated, was a sensation on the right in late 2018 and raised more than $20 million.
Organized by triple-amputee veteran Brian Kolfage, the campaign eventually morphed into a nonprofit called We Build the Wall, which promised to build portions of the wall on private land using the money it raised.
Months later, there’s no evidence that any construction has started, despite claims from Kolfage and his allies that construction would start in April. And now Greene is wondering what ever happened to that wall he was promised his dollars would fund?
“The lack of updates is very concerning,” Greene wrote in an email to Right Richter.
He’s not the only GoFundMe donor curious about what happened to the wall money. Since We Build the Wall blew their April deadline, Twitter replies to Kolfage and the group’s Facebook page have filled up with angry donors. Greene started tweeting his displeasure, too.
We Build the Wall has frequently presented itself as poised to start building portions of the wall on private land. In February, former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach—who is a member of We Build the Wall’s board of directors—claimed that the group was “getting ready to break ground, probably in April.”
Kolfage himself went further, saying in a radio interview in March that “we’re going to start breaking ground next month.” The group had even promised to invite donors to a groundbreaking ceremony.
More than a week into May, though, We Build the Wall hasn’t shown any proof that any ground has been broken, and donors say they weren’t invited to any promised groundbreaking ceremony.
Donors to the group have begun taking out their frustrations on the organization’s Facebook page, which often hypes the threat of immigrants crossing the border illegally.
“Show me video of wall being built and I’ll pony up my next donation,” reads one angry Facebook comment.
“Where is the rest of the money going?” reads another.
Making donors more nervous is that Kolfage has a history of participating in questionable endeavors. He was a prolific operator of hoax pages on Facebook, and money he raised in the past to help veterans’ programs in hospitals never actually went to those hospitals.
Complicating the effort further is that it’s not that easy to find private land right on the border where a wall can be built.
Kolfage and We Build the Wall’s board of directors have spent plenty of time in Arizona, ostensibly scouting private land to build the wall. But The Phoenix New Times reported in March that the “vast majority” of land on the border in the state is owned by the federal government. Meanwhile, many of the people who actually own land on the border told the New Times that they hadn’t been contacted by We Build the Wall.
We Build the Wall didn’t respond to requests for comment. In a Facebook comment this week, the group claimed, once again, that it was very close to building the wall. Conveniently, though, We Build the Wall claimed the information about the private wall’s location had to be “secure” in order to confound liberal foes.
“VERY soon we can release the details but have to keep that information secure for the time being as to prevent giving our detractors a heads up to derail our progress,” the statement reads. “Soon, everyone will have the update they’ve been waiting for which we can’t wait to share. This updated delay is just the unfortunate process of building a controversial barrier some people don’t want to happen.”
Kolfage has made similar statements in the past, claiming in a March radio interview that he can’t say where the wall will be built because Trump critics like the American Civil Liberties Union would try to stop it.
“I wish I could name where it’s at, but we can’t name it because of the ACLU, these other liberal groups that want to sue us and impede our progress,” Kolfage said. “But it’s actually happening.”
As for Greene, he’s fed up with the lack of information about the campaign he financially supported.
“I knew Brian had some previous shady GoFundMe campaigns,” Greene emailed. “I felt more confident when he brought on other big names to work with him, I haven’t seen a tweet from ANY of them.”